Chippewa County officials are slated to vote Tuesday on upgrading voting technology countywide.
Those updates could be in place for the 2020 fall presidential election, county clerk Jackie Sadler said Friday.
If the county Executive Committee votes to approve $400,000 in sales tax revenue to fund the updates, Sadler expects the county to purchase new ballot readers.
The new equipment would automatically transmit voting totals to the county clerk’s office on election nights, Sadler said – eliminating the need for municipal clerks to telephone results to the county clerk.
“Depending on how many candidates are on the ballot, the clerk has to report those results to us, candidate by candidate,” Sadler said. “It’s very time consuming, and when you have that many people writing and listening, your chance of error could go up.”
Currently, municipalities use two different machines, Sadler said: One that allows people to vote using a touch screen, and a ballot reader for paper ballots. In the current system, municipal clerks have to report results from each machine separately.
Depending on the type of new equipment, those two machines could end up combined into one, Sadler said.
Chippewa County’s current voting equipment is somewhat outdated, Sadler said, and the touch screen voting machine “has not been well received by some municipalities as others.”
If approved, the new equipment would not be in place for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
Because of this, Sadler said, her office is requesting the $400,000 for 2019.
Depending on installation and training time, the county may have the updates in place in time for the 2020 fall elections.
“Right now, elections are kind of in the forefront of everyone’s mind,” Sadler said. “I don’t want to have to buy equipment years down the road if the state decides to decertify our equipment … I’d rather be proactive and do things on our timeline, and have our clerks properly trained.”
All Chippewa County municipal clerks and some election workers will undergo election security training with the Wisconsin Election Commission this year, Sadler said.
The county’s hardware does not have her concerned with possible election tampering.
“Honestly, I am not concerned about any kind of foreign or domestic hacks into our system. With all our equipment, nothing is hooked to internet on the local side. Everything is hardwired,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Executive Committee is also slated to review a five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. in room 302 of the Chippewa County courthouse, 711 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls.